My guest today is Khnum Muwta Ibomu, also known as Stic, a prominent rapper, activist, author, and runner who is using his platform to promote health and wellness. As one-half of the critically acclaimed duo, The Dead Prez, Stic has been a leading voice in the hip-hop community for over two decades.
Stic’s personal journey through serious life struggles has led him to develop a unique approach to health and wellness that combines both practicality and spirituality. His new book, “The Five Principles,” is a culmination of his life’s work and offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to live a better, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
In this interview, Stic shares his wisdom on topics ranging from fitness and nutrition to mindfulness and personal growth. He also provides practical tips, recipes, and advice that listeners can use to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Stic’s approach is not just about physical health, but also about mental and emotional wellness. He believes that by combining all of these elements, we can achieve true happiness and fulfillment. His message is inspiring, empowering, and impactful, making this episode a must-listen for anyone seeking to improve their health and wellness journey. Enjoy
Listen to the episode here:
- Mindset Matters [00:02:51]
- The Light in Music [00:08:27]
- Inspiring People [00:11:20]
- Dead Prez [00:17:59]
- Writing a Book [00:22:38]
- Staying Inspired [00:32:13]
- Finding Your Fitness [00:35:25]
- On Eastern Philosophies [00:42:50]
- Consistency [00:52:06]
- Fit Hop [00:55:59]
- Stic’s Approach to Nutrition [01:00:09]
- Stic’s Holistic Supplements [01:04:22]
- The First Step to Transformation [01:07:00]
- Gratitude [01:10:11]
The Five Principles for Living a Fulfilling Lifestyle + Overcoming Your Adversity, Finding Inner Peace & New Insights About Meditation with Rapper Stic from Dead Prez
“Most important thing, especially as it relates to my book about living a healthy lifestyle when that ain’t what you are accustomed to culturally, is your ability to choose a mindset, to get whatever you want, to live however you want to live, to make it happen, to align yourself with the information that you don’t have, to will it to yourself, and to magnetize it to yourself. That mentality is unstoppable. You know all you got in that sense, nobody can think positively for you.”
“To me, the streets and wellness path are not opposites, they’re an opportunity to see the Dojo wherever you at.”
Joining us on the podcast is Stic, an author, activist, and rapper. You might know him as one-half of Dead Prez. Stic has been through a lot of struggles in his life and instead of letting that defeat him, he used the power of his mind and his creativity to work his way out of it. Now, he’s put those lessons and ideas together in a powerful book called The 5 Principles, which can help all of us find our way to a better, healthier, and more fulfilling life. He isn’t just a performer, he’s a smart, passionate, and powerful creator who’s dedicated his life to helping others. His book is filled with practical tips and advice that we can all use to live better and more fulfilling lives.
What sets Stic apart is his emotional depth and honesty, he understands that real change comes from within and that we all have the power to transform our lives if we’re willing to do the work. For me, one of the most poignant things Stic mentioned here is peace is not passive. He understands that being peaceful doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you, it means standing up for yourself and your beliefs in a way that is both powerful and compassionate, think about that as we dive in. We’re excited to have him here on the show and to share his insights with all of us. Enjoy.
Stic, thank you for coming to the show. I have to tell you that, first of all, I went to Florida State, I don’t know if you know that.
I didn’t know that. That’s what’s up, Seminoles.
I played volleyball for Florida State. When I saw something important in your story, at least from the things I read and in reading your book, The 5 Principles, I was like, “Amazing.” I know where you come from.
The same stomping ground.
I want to dive into the principles and how you landed on The 5 Principles. I love the way that you made this book accessible. The conversation around being well or being healthy sometimes feels so far away or out of touch and only for people who are like, “They’ve lived that way their whole life.” What’s important about your book is that you started in one way and, with some help, you moved into a whole other relationship and culture of food and movement in a way that was accessible and is not like, “This isn’t for you but let’s be in a club and let’s be together.”
My journey has been bridging a lot of bridges. Health and wellness, for me, was a spiritual pivot that I’m still growing into. I grew up thinking that being a gangster was the strongest way that you could show up under the conditions. I realized that healthy, wellness, love, optimism, and healing is the most gangster thing we could do. My journey is a healthy gangster lifestyle coming into being.
It’s an interesting point as one-half of Dead Prez where it is this combination of tough. That gets put on everybody. It’s like, “Don’t let anyone take advantage of you and be tough,” all of these things. For someone who can arrive at it to say, “Being peaceful, healthy, or loving is the most powerful we can try to be,” that’s a message that once you experience it but it’s hard for people. How how did you even get to the place where you could practice kindness over aggression when maybe there was a lot of situations where you could have?
[bctt tweet=”Staying inspired is our responsibility.”]
Real life, learning from experiences, sitting in jail, having to reflect on that choice, and diving into that rabbit hole of what fuels that choice. Choices are made before they are made. That was helpful to be able to sit still. Principle one in the book is How Mindset Matters. Sometimes you have to sit with the mind to understand the mindset and other consequences.
What I touch on in the book, going to jail was a time to sit down and to be forced to be present in the same way that later I would learn to sit down on the cushion or the yoga mat, voluntarily being present. In yoga, they call it Drishti or a point of focus to keep your balance. To me, the streets and wellness paths are not opposites, they’re an opportunity to see the dojo wherever you’re at.
Stic, I know a lot about you now, especially getting ready for this podcast and reading your book. Maybe we could go back a little way so we can set the table a little more for your history. You mentioned you went to jail at probably around 19 years old or something like that. When you reflect back, how do you think that you turned it? You looked at it actively in jail. How long exactly were you in jail?
Some months. I had a sentence that when I worked in the kitchen doing that, I got my time short.
Your wife was already a part of your life at that time. When you got out, how did you feel like you could take on this next chapter of your life? Where did you get that strength from?
If you were to ask me then, I might’ve had one answer. Now, it’s spirit. The spirit is in charge. These things charge the spirit. It was part of my calling to do what I do. Sometimes the distractions have to be taken so that you can say, “If everything is dark, wherever you see the light, you’re supposed to go in that direction.”
For me, doing music was that light in, otherwise, a dark situation. I focused on that. I wasn’t all the way out of the habits I had picked up, smoking, drinking, stressing, and all this stuff. I had a Drishti. Those habits caught up to me. When I got diagnosed with gout, which I talk about in the book, The King’s Disease, I’m no longer with my wife at that time.
At that time, she was a vegetarian and she had this wonderful philosophy of believing in nature, trust in nature first and foremost. She was like, “We could heal what you got going on naturally. I believe in your body’s ability to do it.” I had that option from somebody that I trusted and it worked out. It was transformational.
Those changes are hard to make, though. Changing our eating might be one of the most challenging things we can do. You meet a lot of people and you talk all about this healthy living mindset, and I want to go over the principles. Do you think that people can develop the ability to go towards that light or do you think people are hardwired or born that way? I meet a lot of different people and for certain people, would they have the ability to do it? Maybe someone would see someone like you and go, “He was born with something inside of him.”
By nature and nurture.
When you’re dealing with young people, motivating them, inspiring them, and talking about this, when you don’t see that in them, do you have a way of inspiring or connecting them? Your story is inspiring but people think, “Maybe I couldn’t do that.”
We all have everything we are naturally in us so there’s nobody I look at that I will say, “You don’t have this,” or, “You don’t have that.” We are the cosmos, everything in us. Why we don’t recognize it could be a number of reasons. The idea is to expose ourselves and those we love, those in our community, to these tools and these possibilities for a different way to identify.
Especially speaking as somebody who was a young black male coming up and all the stereotypical things, your story is already written for you. If you believe in what I talk about in the book, it’s already set up for you. I grew up and it was like, “You’ll be dead or in jail by 21. The police, 9 times out of 10, are going to stop somebody that looks like you and they’ll be over-aggressive with you.” If you go to college, you’re going to get denied more than anybody else.”
This is the reality of being a young black male so that shapes what’s universal and possible for you as a human being. In order to get that in those situations, there’s something in you that either you are born to lead in that way or there’s something in you that’s a weight and a spark. Whether it’s a family member, a program, a book, a podcast, or whatever it might be these days, our responsibility is to not only survive but thrive and go after the light and then be the light. If it’s dark, be the light.
It’s important because life is hard for so many people and they don’t know where the first step is. Someone like you, they go, “I can relate to him. He’s made music and he has traveled the world doing that and worked with some of the biggest artists in the world and has written a book.” It’s an interesting transition, you’re living it and doing it now for so many years.
I say this for my own curiosity, to remember what it was like and maybe to feel like you couldn’t. Have you learned any ways to touch those people? We all have people like that. Even a family member maybe that’s not healthy and you can see they’re on a path to deterioration, besides being an incredible example, which is the most powerful, have you found anything that can connect with them to give it a go?
I’m a long-distance running coach. This is an example. A lot of people hate running or think they hate running. They’ll tell you, “You do what? I hate running. I don’t ever want to run.” My approach to running for myself and then my approach to advocating running is not about watching the watch, the competitions, the speed, and the distance, it’s none of that. It’s about this moment you have to be in yourself and move. You’re playing like a child. It’s giving yourself that if it’s 10 minutes or 2 hours.
Tying that into the roots of running before it was a big shoe-selling thing. For indigenous cultures, this was a way of life, the Tarahumara Indians, the Kenyans, and the Ethiopians who are the gold status of running, and how they integrate this into their everyday lives and the spiritual components and some of those are unsung heroes in the culture of running. For example, I find people go, “I didn’t look at running like that. It’s just a stress reliever.” You run a little bit on Sundays.
I try to introduce people to using running as an example, the lifestyle, this path, by simple and easy ways to relate and connect culturally, personally, or practically. Once we do that, my role in the process is not to make you anything. It’s already in there and it’s like a pilot on the stove. If you could spark that light in the stove, it’s going to work, it’s made to work. Once people see it’s approachable, bite-size, customizable, and you have permission to adjust and take your time and all of that stuff, it naturally starts to happen.
I love that. You’ve probably experienced this so much, people closest to us listen to us the least. We always joke about an expert, somebody who lives a mile away. I was curious. Maybe we can go back. How did Dead Prez come about? How does that union come about and that incredible experience?
I met my partner, M-1, the other half of Dead Prez, at FAMU, right around the corner from FSU. Ideologically, we had a lot in common, a lot of the pressing issues that are more popular now in terms of social justice and everything under that banner. We were young folks and that was our concern. Even though I was in the street life and he had some background in the streets, we wanted a positive change, we wanted a revolutionary change, and we wanted to be a part of that.
We were inspired by the Black Panther Party. We didn’t see them as controversial as the mainstream saw them. We saw them as uncles, brothers, and aunties who were trying to do something instead of waiting on the system to not do anything. We shared that ideology and we put in a lot of work in grassroots campaigns for the democratic rights of everyday people. We learned a lot and joined some national organizations.
What we found is that a lot of our romanticizing, like the ‘60s, the newspaper they had, and the way they would rally, we were like, “That era has gone.” What people were responding to more on the street was when you say a rap. You say a rap about police brutality. We started seeing that block to block and we were like, “Our work probably is more effective in the music itself. We can reach that much more people, we can inspire, and people can use that music to rally around.” That’s how Dead Prez got a focus.
Was that a pretty fluid experience? Taking that on is difficult. I don’t care what anyone tells me, music and being in music is a hard business. Was there a flow to one dot connected to the next for you guys?
It was that flow, that spirit. You will hear me say this over and over, the spirit is in charge. We charge our spirit to carry it out. From one thing to the next, it was like, “Music is what’s moving this.” We started creating music that gave life to the things we would speak about or advocate about. We moved from Florida to New York because our sound was more of a North East coast sound in terms of hip hop.
We wanted to get signed to the label that was the biggest and strongest at the time doing what we thought was in our vein and it happened to be Wu-Tang Clan in the ‘90s and Mobb Deep. These were the guys. We set our manifestation towards that, moved to New York, and endured homelessness. We met Brand Nubian’s Lord Jamar, which led us to meet Steve Rifkin, the owner of Loud Records. For Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep, it was a home for them. We then got signed to that very label. It flowed like it was supposed to and then from there, it went worldwide with it.
During that time, you had gout. For a long time, you led a vegan lifestyle. You later incorporated some fish. Writing a book is hard and you have to leave out a lot of things you believe and you’ve got to hone in on specific things. You wrote this book yourself. I love that you wrote it on your phone, I’ll be honest with you, that’s the first time I’ve heard that. You’re going along and you’re already a communicator. At what point did you think, “I’m going to write this book.”
It just came to me. I’ve written other books that I self-published and got out to my hip-hop audience. My spirit was like, “I wanted to capture this lifestyle for myself.” Do you know how you live in something but when you journal it, there are more insights, takeaways, and dots you can see? I’m always a white belt, I’m always a student.
I was interested in adding up and tweaking and taking my lifestyle to the next level, which I’m always trying to do. I reached out to Regina Brooks, who was my book agent at Serendipity. I was talking to her about maybe doing a book and then she said, “Yes, it is time. Your voice needs to be heard. Here’s what we need to do.” She inspired me, like, “It’s time.” I learned the principles in real-time in the order that they appear in the book. I thought that was interesting and I wanted to capture that.
I didn’t think I was going to write the book. I published books. I was like, “I did that.’ This is a real book. I found this great writer who was a marathoner and had everything. Six months in, I’m doing interviews and he never produces any content. Six months in, I had to make that decision to change and pivot what I thought was going to happen. I didn’t think I had time to write a book or the skills. Six months in, I made a decision that I got to let him go and I got to start from scratch. As I mentioned in the book, I worked on that for about six months and then I decided I didn’t like the voice I was speaking in.
You were in your book voice.
I was like, “Scratch it.” That’s the process to find that balance between universal communication and chit-chatting with your homie. For me, that was a sweet spot.
You mentioned mindset matters, you mentioned that first. That’s setting us on the orientation. Have you ever had those days where you don’t have your mindset straight and you’re watching yourself with your bad mindset and you’re like, “I know better and I can’t get there. This is influencing and impacting everything I’m thinking, saying, doing, and what’s coming back at me.” That’s the most interesting part about mindset and that it’s an ongoing thing to keep in check. I appreciate that you put this as the first principle because it’s the one that starts us in whatever direction we’re dictating.
Every bit of our experience is mental. There are no other areas but the mental is how we experience it. It’s even realizing that there’s a filter. A perspective is simply that, a perspective. It’s not absolute, you don’t know tomorrow, and you don’t know 30 seconds from now. A lot of the things we project into our mental, we experience back in the form of suffering and that’s a cycle over and over, small ways or big ways. It’s realizing that I can choose my perspective no matter what is going on. That in itself is an a-ha and liberating.
This Google executive wrote a book called Solve for Happy. There’s a concept he has called Looking Down. In terms of perspectives, we look up and say, “Susie has this and Daryl has this and I only have this so I can only do this.” It’s because we’re looking up. When you look down and you say, “So and so hasn’t seen their child in ten years,” or, “This person had a hurricane yesterday.” There’s so much to be grateful for. You haven’t moved on the ladder, you still got your problem, or whatever, but your perspective has changed and then it allows us to move a little lighter with a little more grace. That’s all it’s about. It’s going to be something up and down, that’s life.
Sometimes I’ve been thinking a lot about how I only know based on the input I’ve come across in my life. As much as I’d like to expand and transcend beyond my own limitations, I’m still limited by the input that’s come to me. When I was reading your book and I was thinking about where you have come from and what you’re now communicating, it’s one of those questions where you wonder where people are able to transcend their input, their culture. That narrative, I’m always curious by that because few people can do it. It feels like you went somewhere other than maybe where you were supposed to.
That’s key to my book, that’s key to my lifestyle. I truly believe that we have everything in us. We are not lacking anything. It doesn’t matter if we are exposed to the Harvard campus or the hood is all we’ve seen one block for our whole life. What you truly need is already in it. You can give people millions of dollars and every Ferrari but if they’re not happy, if they don’t have a mindset, they’re going to be miserable with a lot of money. At the same time, we know people can be in physically impoverished situations but being joyful and the storyteller and able to make people smile or heal or comforting. It’s not the things. Sure, let’s have tools, and let’s have things we enjoy.
The most important thing, especially as it relates to my book about living a healthy lifestyle when that ain’t what you are accustomed to culturally, is your ability to choose a mindset, to get whatever you want, to live however you want to live, to make it happen, to align yourself with the information that you don’t have, to will it to yourself, and to magnetize it to yourself. That mentality is unstoppable. You know all you got in that sense, nobody can think positively for you.
[bctt tweet=”Peace is not passive.”]
Can I have a caveat for that? You are 100% spot on and like you, and I’ve had this, it is imperative to have even if it’s one other person to keep feeding you that loop of positivity. You had that in your life.
Lots of that.
If someone’s feeling that way, like, “I can’t.” It does have to start with us. To make the journey all the way, it’s critical to have even one person who’s like, “You can do it. I’m doing it too. What are you doing?
You’re right. To that point, there may be people in our lives that are doing that but we can’t hear it because of where we’re at. If we learn how to be a little bit quieter, we might be able to pick up on that. There are people in situations where that one person is not there. What I was talking about in principle five is staying inspired is our responsibility.
For me, for many years, Bruce Lee was that person. I never met Bruce Lee but Bruce Lee left a lot of wisdom that has been a father to me. Malcolm X wrote his story for us to connect and for us to relate and to get that inspiration. If there’s nobody in a person’s life at all that they feel is positive, then go to the community who have left inspiration. If there’s nothing that you relate to in that way, work on your imagination and make a friend in your head, be your own friend.
That’s an important and beautiful point. Especially maybe when we’re young and we feel isolated or alone, that’s important. Principle two is to listen to your gut. That is figurative and literal when it comes to your book, talking about the microbiome and talking about your instincts. You even talk about how you had to learn to eat through this period. One point I want to bring up that I appreciated that you talked about in your book was the four points of healing, homeostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and maturation.
The other thing I want to talk about in this book is you go over the principles, there are also recipes, and there are exercises. You did a nice job of creating a place where people go, “What do you mean?” It’s like, “This is what I mean.” You have it there for people to try right there and you break it down. You were mentioning about running but your third principle is Finding Your Fitness. You have a ton of exercises.
You mentioned in the running, it’s like, “What do you want to do? Is it inside or outside.” You’ve done a lot of different things, martial arts, running, and meditation. Do you find that play? Do you enjoy starting something new? How does that process? How would somebody find their fitness? Also, maybe you can talk about fit hop as well.
The whole idea of principle three, Finding Your Fitness, is we live in 2023 and there are a million different exercises, and everything. Everything isn’t always for everybody. Somebody might be like, “I would never do martial arts. I’m too heavy.” It’s like, “Have you ever watched sumo wrestling? Have you ever watched judo?” It’s like, “You might be like Don Juan if you find what fits you.” The exploration of fitness is what makes it a lifestyle.
You can get into surfing but what happens if you move away from the beach? No more fitness? The lifestyle of exploring movement in ways that you enjoy. Don’t just be a runner or don’t just be a surfer, be willing to explore and play. That’s what Finding Your Fitness is. That’s how people find it. Like herbs, I wouldn’t tell you to just get some nettle. Whatever happens in life, take that nettle. You need other things. Get your core if you’re a runner or a yogi. Sometimes hit the gym or take a swim and not running.
You meet people that might say, “I was never an athlete and I’m working three jobs,” who knows what’s going on? It’s not that I worry about them but they’re the ones who have the biggest uphill like accessing even healthy food, whether it’s to find it or afford it, time, and then not growing up. In a way, when we were younger, playing was a part of being a kid. Now, it’s almost become a luxury. Do you live in a safe enough place to play? Is there even a program at your school where you could compete in sports? There are all these elements to it. How do we connect? It’s a woman, she has three kids, and she’s working two jobs. It’s a lot.
The point of finding fitness or any other healthy thing is not to add more stress and drama to your life. That’s not the point to be like, “I got to figure out how to run a marathon.” This is about finding the things that help that hecticness and feel better. It may be a walk with those three kids when the kids are usually all over the place and this and that and you need a second and they need a second. It’s like, “We take a walk for twenty minutes when we connect at the end of the day.” That’s finding fitness, finding how it can fit into your flow, and then being mindful and intentional.
One thing I share in that section is what I call Bruce Lee moments. I’m a super Bruce Lee fan. I work with his family foundation from time to time. I’ve learned his personal habits behind what we’ve seen in the movies and all this stuff. If he’s watching tv, he’s stretching during the show or he’s lifting barbells over the commercials. He was one of the first to say, “Always take the steps far away from the entrance of the grocery store so you can walk.” These are Bruce Lee moments, what I call them, where you are working it into what you are already doing. You want to be compassionate, sensitive, and empathetic to people’s feelings. At the end of the day, there’s no limit to excuses.
Do you want me to tell you a reason why? Let’s go. If you start, I’ll go. We’ll never be done with excuses. You could be right and it’s not fair and everything else under the sun. You suffer if you do not have healthy practices that anchor you, that charge you. No matter what’s going on around you, that person is the one to suffer. Excuses aside, real legitimate reasons aside, how can I nourish myself in the best way that I can? That’s what I try to emphasize.
You talk about, in the fourth principle, restoration. We’re maybe going too hard, running marathons, jumping on airplanes, and performing in California the night that you run a marathon, and just going, going, and going. Even within this, you understood the power of active recovery or restoration or doing things like qigong or meditation. That’s the other side. As human beings, we’re all addicted to something. I have three daughters and my husband is an athlete, I was thinking in my mind he’s a surfer. I was thinking in my mind when you said if you moved away from the beach and my mind was like, “I would be divorced.”
My one daughter is the smart mouth one and she’s like, “You guys are addicted to exercise.” It’s like, “I don’t drink. I don’t do all these things.” I then think to myself, “It’s probably true.” We’re always going to have something that we maybe do a little too much. As somebody who was going, in your music, your craft, and now in your other new craft, your fitness life, where did you learn to have the relationship with slowing it down or less or be calm and quiet and that can be valuable too?
That was from learning more about the eastern philosophies about qigong and how yin and yang work together. A person like me, my energy was yang. That’s still my default, I’m trying to go, and I’m trying to get it. The first time I took Tai Chi was when my oldest son’s mother was pregnant. I remember being in there thinking, “This is slow. This is soft.”
“I want to move. I need more energy and intensity when I’m training. This is not fitness.” I did it and it was relaxing but I didn’t respect it. There were little seeds that the teacher was talking about that strength comes out of the rest. Calmness is what allows you to gather energy and things like that. It’s the philosophy of it. Philosophically, I’m like, “This is beautiful but let’s go make it happen.”
This is for pregnant ladies.
Where it hit me is when I started having noticeable signs of doing too much like stress. I had an alopecia patch on my head. I’m in great shape and I’m way healthier than I’ve ever been in life.
I’ve seen your pictures, you’re ripped.
At that time, a little bit. I got a hole in my head from stress. I’m like, “What’s not adding up?” It is a blessing though. Having gout was a blessing. Every challenge is a blessing because that’s when you go, “Now I can respect this.” Now it’s recovery, rest, and recharging. This is not something that’s soft. This is your secret weapon. The thing that makes you the strongest you could ever be is being able to say, “It’s time to go to sleep.”
That eight hours of doing nothing is the best thing you can do for tomorrow. Instead, today, we want to keep going. Why sit down? I want to get tomorrow started today. Spiritually, it’s immature. You have to have balance. As I said, “If I can tease this old dog that new trick…” My steam room sessions are active. I respect that as working out today, working on my rejuvenation, detox, and recovery in the same way as running ten miles.
Even if we have to tell ourselves, “This is going to make me more badass tomorrow if I calm down today.” Even if we have to play that silly game with ourselves.
Get it in there.
“This chi thing, fine. I’ll build up some chi so I can be a pressure.” Do you have any secrets? Let’s say they call you up and go, “We need you guys to come and perform and you’re going to perform till 12:00 or 1:00 and you’re going to be amped up and ramped up.” Did you have any tricks or secrets? On top of it, maybe you’re on the road, which is another dimension of something to manage. Did you have any little secrets that helped bring you down and got you ready to be more in that parasympathetic?
There are a few things. When I’m traveling, I always run in the city somewhere to shake off the nerves. If nothing else, I run, take a hot shower, and I have to do those two things. I need some me time where I’m not with a bunch of entourage. When I get to the venue, I need some meditation time, a stretch.
At the venue, is it the nerves going to the venue, “Let me calm down in this place I’m going to be.” Why do you pick there?
I meditate in the mornings too. That energy field when you are in a space where everybody is passing the Hennessy, “Snap a picture. Let me tell you a story. Let me network.” All of that energy. I like to be in the corner and people say, “He’s doing something else.” That field follows you. You can engage when you want to but you can also have your space. That helps me be ready. I’m quiet, I’m reading, and I’m doing the opposite of what I’m doing on stage right before. When I get on there, I’m inspired, I got energy, I’m ready to talk, and I’m ready to engage. iI’s those things, being meditated, Tai chi, and things like that.
Forgive me if I botched this, you have a Zazen approach to meditation. If someone’s reading this and think, “I want to check this out.” Is this something that you’re still practicing or this is what got you into meditation?
There are many great ways to meditate and people should try every one of them, ten times each. I’m still exploring but Zazen is one of the ones that I’ve found helps what they call the monkey mind and all the 50,000 thoughts. You’re counting and you got to hold your breath. It’s this process, you’re focused on following instructions more than following your random thoughts. Because it’s science-based, after a certain amount of time, you’re into this metronome in your own mind to you’re used to it and this is familiar so the automatic stuff happens and then you find yourself like, “I can get in that space.”
That’s why I wanted to bring it up because quiet is the hardest thing for all of us to do. It almost gives the mind something to do to allow us to slip into that place, which then people go, “That feels so much easier.” Instead of like, “Quiet your mind.” It’s like, “I don’t even know what that means.”
This insight might be helpful for somebody reading. People think, “I tried meditation but it doesn’t work for me. I can’t clear my mind.” This is stuff you hear all the time. What I realized and maybe a reframe is meditation is not so much about clearing your mind as it is about getting clarity of what’s going on in your mind, being clear about the chaos, or whatever it might be. What we’re doing is being present enough to be clear on what’s happening.
That’s an important point because sometimes getting an insight about how we’re feeling about things helps us make that next best step. The fifth principle is to stay inspired.
You have a lot of that around you. You talk about mantras and even versions of self-hypnosis. Maybe you can share what that principle means to you.
That principle could have been called being consistent. At some points in the ten-year career we’ve been sharing these principles with the community, being consistent is how we would express it.
I messed that up. I take it back. I’m sorry. It is consistency. I don’t know why I wrote it as being staying inspired. In the book, it is consistency. Sorry, I had two versions. I have translations and the name.
We’re right in alignment. The idea was to be consistent. You can know that meditation is good for you but if we’re not consistent, we don’t get the benefits. We can know what we’re supposed to eat and not to eat. If we’re not consistent, we don’t get that. We know we’re supposed to move and exercise regularly but if we’re not consistent. The same with sleep and rest. Be consistent, that’s the thumb on this fix.
A person is like, “That’s the problem, I’m not consistent.” This is the thing. I had to unpack my journey, like, “How was I in the middle of the hip hop industry with where I come from and all of the influences around me every day to resort back to whatever? What has been that thing for me? Why have I been consistent?” What I found, and this is my theory, is that it’s being able to know how to stay inspired. Everybody says, “Be disciplined.” It’s like, “When I’m motivated to be disciplined, I’m going to do it.”
As soon as I lose that motivation and inspiration, the excuses win the battle. With that in mind, I’m like, “What’s been keeping me?” It’s the nerve side of you. It is like, “I’m going to dive into Bruce Lee.” Everything Bruce Lee ever said becomes my inspiration in my headphones when I’m somebody’s book on him. I’ll take that on a morning run when I don’t want to go on. I’ll go if Bruce Lee is telling me why I need to reach my potential.
Imagine if I didn’t take the time to go shopping for that piece of inspiration grocery, it wouldn’t be in my pantry. I realized that an active part of being consistent is curating those tools and those resources so that you can stay inspired. That is a job, that’s one-fifth of a healthy lifestyle. It’s not a sidebar, it’s one-fifth. What are your tools? What are your inspiration tools? What is your playlist? What are your favorite books? What’s your favorite color? You need sneakers in that color. When you say, “I got on my yellow sneakers, I’m ready to run,” this is a part of it.
I have to ask, I’d be a knucklehead if I didn’t ask, what kind of music are you running to? Are you running to music that’s different than you’re lifting weights to or it depends on the day and what mood you’re in?
Two things. I invented this approach to hip hop that I call Fit Hop. It’s got all of the protein that we love about hip hop, the base, the energy, and the aggressiveness. There are no artificial colors or flavors and none of this stuff or goofy lyrics or negative or misogynistic or racist or all this stuff that we hear in the lyrics that we tolerate because hip hop is infectious. We might rather hear something more uplifting. We don’t want it to be corny because it’s positive. It’s a sweet nuance. For me, I needed to create that because it didn’t exist.
There are people who make great hip hop and there are people who are great speakers, great trainers, and all of that, terrible artists, and whatever. How do we get the sweet spot of both? That’s my humble attempt, Fit Hop was to do that. A lot of times, I listen to things like that. My albums, The Workout 1 and 2, it’s the only music I’ve ever made that I can listen to like a utility, a consumer without thinking, “This is my stuff. I let it do what it’s made for it.” Besides that, I listen to a lot of instrumental music and a lot of audiobooks when I train.
Speaking of audiobooks, you have read this book so it’s also an audiobook. What I like about the actual physical book is you do have the exercises and the recipes and things like that. The other thing you talk about is it’s important to learn how to cook.
You cannot live a healthy lifestyle unless you got a personal chef and you’re balling like that. It’s not to eat your heart out. For everyday people who want to invest that money in something else, you got to know how to nourish yourself and you want to like it. There’s no way around it. Being inspired to take something to people who it doesn’t come natural and is like a chore, there’s got to be some inspiration.
[bctt tweet=”I truly believe that we have everything in us. We are not lacking anything.”]
For me, what I do is I find chefs that I find interesting in some way or I relate like Marcus Samuelsson, the guy who wrote Yes, Chef. His story is amazing. Whenever you are around people who have a passion for something, it can be contagious. I may not be a top chef when I’m done reading this book but there are a few more ingredients that I want to play with. That’s how staying inspired comes. All of these principles are intertwined and they feed into each other.
I appreciate that point. When someone is genuinely excited about something and they know the topic that they’re talking about, you’re like, “I’m ready to try that because of them.” I have to ask you about how you drink water. Do you have a special way? You made a thing about water and being hydrated. You had a way that you do it.
I don’t like the word diet because I’m not trying to diet.
It feels restrictive, diet.
The way I’m approaching nutrition in this season is I call it vegequarian. Aquarian is the emphasis on water. This is personal to me, of all the healthy practices that I know we need and I’ve been around and I know is important, drinking adequate amounts of water has been the biggest challenge. I don’t crave water like that. It’s not something that I’ve enjoyed. What I wanted to do was see how to Bruce Lee moment my thing. I had this inspiration. Fruit, vegetables, and lettuce have water in them so there you’re getting some water doing that.
What are other ways? I started researching. When you boil something, that’s water-based. When you poach or steam something, these are more ways to incorporate hydration into what you’re eating, fruit, and so forth. I started looking at the role of water in the nutrition process. That’s when I started looking at the rainforest.
The rainforest, being the rainforest, is based on a high amount of water. What is the rainforest known for? It’s the proliferation of life and abundance and everything great. It’s paradise on earth, the sweet spot. I’m always a student. I started to say, “I wonder are there parallels?” There’s a parallel in the cell of water and salt, that ratio, and it’s the same as the oceans and salt. That’s the same as our bodies of water. We can bio-mimic nature.
I was curious and I went down this rabbit hole about what makes the rainforest great. It’s the high waterfall, it’s the high solar, a lot of sun energy, and how the soil is adaptive and absorptive, and so forth. I started saying, “What would that look like If I made these adjustments in my diet as an experiment? How would I get more water? How would I get more nutrient-dense and energetic things?” I base that vegequarian model around what makes the rainforest thrive and that’s the approach.
I appreciate recognizing those connections because a lot of people don’t even realize the percentage of our bodies that are water is the same as the earth, what to land to ocean, and even that saline content. I appreciate that. I’m throwing this out there, have you ever seen The Shark’s Paintbrush? It’s an incredible book about biomimicry. It’s awesome. Since you were talking about biomimicry, I’ll bring that up. First of all, I imagine you take some herbal supplements. Do you have a practice or are you trying to get everything from your food to the best of your ability?
I don’t do conventional supplements because my primary doctor is a herbalist and acupuncturist. That whole approach is more holistic.
Are you doing teas?
I do tea often. To me, the most supplement I would do is quercetin.
I feel like mostly eating good foods. My go-to is soup year around because it’s hydrating, nutrient-dense, easy to digest, warm, and soothing. I do that most of the time.
Do your guys ever give you a hard time? It’s like, “Here we are with the green juice and the soup. There he goes running again.” Do you get that a lot?
I got two nicknames that will answer that question, Malcolm Exercise, and Jehovah Fitness. That’s how my team treats me but it’s in a good way.
Stic, I appreciate that you could put the effort together to take your experience and put it into The 5 Principles to share that with other people, to inspire them, and uplift them.
Thank you very much.
By nature, human beings have to move towards feeling good, I just don’t think it happens naturally. We’re hardwired the other way to be anxious, to want to medicate with food or alcohol, or to be stressed or react combatively. This is more natural because of our biology and living maybe unnaturally now. If someone’s reading this and they do feel maybe buried a little bit, from your point of view because you’ve come from a different point of view arriving at this place, what would be the first step? What would you say to somebody that’s like, “I can’t do what he does.”
If somebody’s out there thinking, “I can’t do what he does.” I would say, “You’re right.” The good thing is you don’t have to do what I do at all. It’s about how these five principles apply to you.What is your mindset? Does that matter to you? Does it matter how you feel to you? If you want to feel different, are you open to exploring other ways of processing things? It’s a trial. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, it’s something else. Being open to looking at things a little differently is going to give you different options.
All we can ask for is some more options. Your nutrition doesn’t have to look like mine. Nutrition is not the same for everybody. A baby is not going to eat the same as an elder. An elder is not going to eat the same as an athlete. An athlete is not going to eat the same as a pregnant one. All of that changes. Nutrition is about finding what’s working for you, where you are right now, fitness, and so forth. These are fundamental universal principles.
The model, the container, if we work it, it will work. If you find a way to meditate regularly or to clear your mind in some way or to pray or to release and relax, if you find foods that give you energy and that don’t trigger your allergies or these things, that matters. You don’t have to be an athlete. If you like dancing, do it regularly. That’s holding the same place. Like I say over and over in the book and this is a quote from Bruce Lee, “Take what’s useful, discard whatever is not, and add what is essentially your own.”
Most people, in different ways, had challenges when they were young. If they didn’t, then they have all the challenges when they’re older. It’s like, “Who knows?” If you think about 18 or 19-year-old Stic and let’s say the energy in your heart versus you today with maybe a wide capacity. The strength is in the loving, in the not reacting, and into the openness. Does it ever blow your mind how different where you can start and where you can be moving to?
It blows my mind with gratitude. I’m grateful to be able to be humble and learn and see the benefit of that in the simplest ways. I’m blown away. Peace is not passive. The confusion is that when you’re at a state of calm or peace or inner peace, that equates to letting people like walk all over you or mistreat you or abuse you or that stuff. It has nothing to do with that. It puts you in a position to be clear on what you will accept and not accept and to be able to make moves, in hindsight, that you’re going to be like, “I was out of my right mind.” It’s like, “I thought about that.”
It’s like playing chess, I took my time, I surveyed the scene, and then I make the best move I can at the time knowing that the other side is going to move and it’s going to keep going. It’s not about beating ourselves up but it’s about knowing that you want to make the best move you can at the moment and then reflect and adapt. Peace is the most gangster thing you can maintain because peace is powerful in the best way. We work on inner peace but that doesn’t mean being passive. Stand up for justice and fight for what’s right but don’t drive yourself crazy with stress doing that.
I don’t think I could end it in any other way. I am curious, is there a new dream? Is there something in there rolling around in the back? If you don’t want to share it, that’s okay. I’m just curious.
I’ll be super transparent. 2022 has been probably the toughest year of my life, I lost my father, and I got divorced from a 30-year relationship. At the end of 2022, my home of eighteen years was completely destroyed by water damage. One calendar year. These are the big points, there are always little things. I’ve been using the power of these five principles to the maximum, to stay resilient, to stay inspired, and to know that these changes are opportunities to adapt, to grow deeper in my practices.
Also, to ride the wave instead of getting overwhelmed by it and being like, “This is a big wave. This is a huge wave. Nobody’s riding a wave like this and staying balanced.” It’s allowing me to become that surfer. My future right now is not drowning. Beyond that, I look forward to getting off that wave and saying, “That was exhilarating. I learned some things that made me a better surfer,” and then getting to the next wave.
I appreciate that. Stic, thank you for writing the book, The 5 Principles. Remind everybody all the places where they can connect with you in case they want to continue to learn more about what you’re doing.
I’m on Instagram, @Stic. I’m not hard to find, I’m easy to touch. Send me a DM and say, “What’s up?” Let me know something good. I’m always looking for inspiration as well as sharing.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you so much for reading this episode. Stay tuned for a bonus episode where I go deeper into one of the topics that resonated with me. If you have any questions for my guest or even myself, please send them to @GabbyReece on Instagram. If you feel inspired, please hit the follow button, and leave a rating and a comment. It not only helps me, it helps the show grow and reach new readers.
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Khnum “Stic” Ibomu, widely-known as Stic from the legendary hip hop group Dead Prez, is an award-winning hip-hop artist and producer. Dubbed “the father of fit hop,” Stic arguably pioneered the “fit hop” music genre with his groundbreaking albums The Workout and Workout II. Hip-hop aside, Stic is also a certified long distance running coach, founder of RBG Fit Club and an Adjunct professor at The Clive Davis Institute at NYU. In turn, his music and lifestyle have inspired millions around the world.